Ghana is inching towards a return to the dreaded cash-and-carry-system, Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Justice Yankson, has revealed.
According to him, hospitals across the country have run into complete bankruptcy due to failure by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to pay claims made by service providers.
The claims are said to be in arrears for several months with no thorough explanation from the Authority.
Dr Yankson painted a gloomy picture about how hospital facilities have ground to a halt and have been left with no option than to turn away holders of NHIS cards.
Dr Kennedy Brightson, a medical director of Shai Osudoku Hospital at Dodowa said the last time they received payment from the NHIA was the first quarter of 2014.
He said he is virtually chased around by his suppliers, a situation that has left him unstable.
The GMA had earlier on issued a statement saying the Authority owed some hospitals in the Greater Accra Region in excess of GH¢18 million, while debts owed hospitals in the Ashanti Region, including the Manhyia District Hospital and the Kumasi South Regional Hospital, run into more than GH¢4million.
Deputy General Secretary of the GMA later told Joy FM that the situation has become “unbearable” to the affected hospitals.
He said doctors sometimes have to dip their hands into their pockets to pay for services of patients.
“We cannot do our clinical work. The situation is becoming unbearable.
Patients are not able to get consultations. It is becoming problematic. We are suffering,” he lamented.
He said they made all contacts with powers that be to find out exactly what the problem is but nothing substantial has been said.
He found it even more intriguing that the NHIS levy, a statutory fund which people automatically pay any time they buy any commodity that has an NHIS levy on it will still be in arrears for several months.
“We are back to cash-and-carry,” he said, adding the “GMA has hit a wall” in trying to solve the problem.
The GMA, therefore, asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) to settle the indebtedness of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to public health facilities.
The GMA in a letter signed by its General Secretary, Dr Frank Serebour, to the Health Minister, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah, said the last payment made by the NHIA to the facilities was in June 2014.
The Kumasi South Regional Hospital, the Manhyia District Hospital, the Suntreso Government Hospital and the Maternal and Child Health Hospital in the Ashanti Region alone were owed a total sum of GH¢4,358,675.00
The letter said the indebtedness was actually countrywide and that several hospitals were run basically on monies that were returned from services rendered to NHIS card bearing clients.
“Therefore, any prolonged delay in payment, as it is happening, can impact highly on the effective running of the hospitals.
“Indeed, most hospitals have resorted to co-payment and in some cases outright cash-and-carry. This effectively defeats the very purpose for which the NHIS was established. However, we cannot blame the institutions for resorting to these practices in their quest for survival,” the letter said.